Now that the embers are dying down in the media’s “David Ortiz vs. Mike Lowell” saga, Tony Massarotti is a bit strapped for true controversy. When that happens, there’s only one thing a Boston columnist and radio show host can do. Conjure another one up.
1. “Has Jacoby now become to the Sox what “Medical” Bill Cartwright once was to the New York Knicks? Is it Ellsbury – or DLsbury?”
Tony is off and running. Completely random cross-sport reference? Check. Lame attempt at nicknaming the player in question? Check. Implication that a certain player doesn’t want it bad enough to play hurt? I think we got a controversy brewing…
2. “Last year, during a rock-solid season in which Ellsbury batted .301, stole 70 bases, and played in 153 games, manager Terry Francona spoke of how Ellsbury was beginning to understand the “responsibility” of playing in the major leagues, which was a nice way of saying that Ellsbury had an obligation to his manager and teammates to play through minor issues and be in the lineup.”
Well, Tony. You’ve attributed one word (“responsibility”) to the Sox manager and then proceeded to explain, in your own words, what Terry Francona was actually saying about his outfielder. Want to know how many times Francona used the word “responsibility” when discussing Red Sox players last season? Over 900 times. Yeah, we made that number up. Just like you made up a read-between-the-lines explanation of a beyond-obscure quotation that Terry Francona may or may not have ever said.
3. “At the moment, nobody should dispute that Ellsbury is in some level of discomfort. The greater question concerns if and when he can play through it. Ellsbury already has said that he expects to deal with the problem all year – an alibi if he plays poorly, no doubt – and it is worth noting that he is 1 for 14 since coming off the disabled list.”
No, it’s not worth noting 14 at-bats. Tony learned nothing from the trials of Ortiz earlier this season in which the media waited even less than 14 at-bats (eight to be exact), before declaring something was wrong with Big Papi. Ellsbury did make a nice diving catch in center field last weekend in Philadelphia. But one catch is merely anecdotal. Fourteen at-bats, though? That’s plenty enough data to employ when trying to make a flawed argument.
4. “Ellsbury, of course, is merely 26. While it is always dangerous to wonder whether players are capable of playing through injuries – the Red Sox would be wise to remember the cases of both Scott Williamson and Matt Clement – the issue here is clearly much bigger. In the minds of the Sox – and others – Ellsbury has a reputation, something only he can be responsible for.”
Well, something for which only Ellsbury or any other jackass looking to fill out space in an online column can be responsible. Don’t end sentences with the word “for,” Tony. It makes you sound like you don’t really care about your readers. It hurts our feelings and makes us wonder if you’re really cut out to be a part-time writer.
5. “Earlier this month, Mike Lowell openly wondered whether he still had a role on the Red Sox, but at least Lowell’s remarks were motivated by the desire to play, something that hardly makes him different from the majority of athletes.
In Ellsbury’s case, the problem seems to be the opposite.
Does he want to play or doesn’t he?”
Back when Tony was trying to intimate that Ellsbury’s 2009 may have been an aberration in terms of playing time (153 games), he conveniently neglected to mention that Jacoby also played in 145 the year before, an up-and-down 2008 that was also his first full season in the majors. In 2007, he logged 528 plate appearances over 104 games in Triple AAA and in September as a member of the Red Sox. At the risk of sounding like some “pink hat in Camp Jacoby,” as Tony would say, it certainly seems like a guy who doesn’t want to play wouldn’t have, you know, played so much over the last three seasons. One could probably safely assume that had Ellsbury not collided with Adrian Beltre on a fluky play in Kansas City, he would again be on track for 600-plus plate appearances, a benchmark he reached in both of his first two full seasons in the major leagues.
Whatever Jacoby’s reputation may have been back in 2005 or 2006 is completely irrelevant now. People change and so do their reputations. For example, five years ago, some people may have accused Tony Massarotti of being a respectable writer who covered the Boston Red Sox. Opinions and outlooks can change.